16 February 2006

1916 Items Up for Auction

Irish Voice

By Mairead Carey

THE only original copy of the Irish national anthem is to go under the hammer in the coming weeks, in an auction of memorabilia from the Easter Rising of 1916.

A typewriter belonging to Michael Collins, a Tricolor said to have flown over the GPO during the Easter Rising, and the telegram from the British government announcing the formation of the Irish free state are also up for grabs.

So too are poignant letters from the leaders of the rising to their loved ones, written the night before their execution.

Among them are a letter from Thomas Clarke to his wife Kathleen, and a letter from fellow rebel Sean McDermott to the mayor of Limerick.

Auctioneers believe that the written copy of the anthem “The Soldier’s Song” or “Amhran na bhFiann” will fetch between ¤800,000 and ¤1.2 million and is likely to go to a bidder outside the state.

The song was written by Peadar Kearney on two pieces of paper nine years before the rising but was popularized by the 1916 rebels. It was chosen as the national anthem in 1926.

Despite the recent attempts by the Irish government to reclaim the spirit of 1916 from the Republican movement, there has been no indication that it will pay for the items to be kept in this country.

The auction, to be known as the “Independence Sale,” will be jointly hosted by James Adam and Sons and Mealy’s Auctioneers in the James Adam salesrooms in Dublin during the week of April 12, which coincides with Easter.

“This sale is unique in every respect. No sale of such national importance has ever been held before, and we imagine it won’t be matched for a long time after,” said Stuart Cole, director of James Adam and Sons. “Many of the items consigned for auction are one-offs.”

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